Mt. Pleasant driver pleads guilty to dragging state park ranger
A Mt. Pleasant man pleaded guilty Wednesday to reduced charges in connection with an incident in which he dragged a state park ranger whose arm was stuck in an open car window as he sped away from a traffic stop.
Jerrad Crouch, 32, will serve up to 23 months in jail as part of a plea bargain deal that saw prosecutors dismiss the most serious charges, including one count each of aggravated assault and child endangerment.
A 4-year-old child was unrestrained in the front passenger seat during the November incident, police said.
“The officer approved the deal and wasn’t seriously injured,” said Westmoreland County Assistant District Attorney Rebecca Calisti. “This deal spares the officer from testifying at a trial, and it was done in the best interest to get Mr. Crouch treatment.”
According to court records, State Bureau of Forestry rangers stopped Crouch’s vehicle after seeing it speed on Route 381 in Forbes State Forest in Donegal with a license plate light out. During the traffic stop, rangers learned that Crouch had two arrest warrants for retail theft and receiving stolen property.
Crouch started to drive away when a ranger reached inside a partially open window and tried to open the driver’s door, police said.
Crouch told Common Pleas Court Judge Meagan Bilik-DeFazio that he panicked when he was pulled over.
“I had a warrant out, and I was scared I would go to jail,” Crouch said.
Crouch told the judge the child in his car at the time was the son of a friend.
After the guilty plea hearing, Calisti said she had believed the child was Crouch’s son and would notify the county’s children’s bureau to investigate.
Crouch pleaded guilty to charges of simple assault and fleeing from police. The prosecution dismissed charges of aggravated assault, child endangerment, escape and summary traffic violations.
In a separate case, Crouch pleaded guilty to retail theft charges for stealing tennis shoes from a local department store.
He was sentenced to serve the time he has spent in jail since his arrest in January up to 23 months. The judge ordered Crouch to be assessed for drug and alcohol abuse and undergo any recommended treatment.
Crouch also has theft charges pending against him in Cambria County.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff writer. Reach him at 724-830-6293 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rich Cholodofsky is a Tribune-Review staff reporter. You can contact Rich at 724-830-6293, email@example.com or via Twitter .